Local News

Group takes Freedom Ride to learn about state's racial history

Posted July 15, 2010 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated July 15, 2010 6:52 p.m. EDT

— A group of 45 young people from three Episcopal dioceses across the state are on a trip to learn about North Carolina's racial history.

Their 500-mile Freedom Ride began last Friday in Wilmington and stopped in Durham on Thursday so participants could learn about the life of Pauli Murray, the first black woman to be an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church.

While there, some said the odyssey has stretched their thinking in ways they weren't expecting.

“Anywhere from the school system to the church itself, there’s a lot of bigotry,” participant Johnathan York said. “It may not be racism. It may be classism or the gay-and-straight issue and it’s everywhere – something as a community and a church especially we need to work on.”

Along their trip, they have encountered some surprises, like when participant Keva Miller met Oxford author, school board protester and Duke University researcher Tim Tyson.

“To be truthful, I really thought he was black, but he turned out to be white,” Miller said.

The expedition ends this weekend in Greensboro, the site of the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins that propelled a nationwide movement.

For some, the journey may last a lifetime.

“As an African-American, you always are representing your race because we are always sort of popping up in a negative light. We’re not expected to do as much. We’ve always got to excel at what we do,” participant Chris Harris said.

The students taking part in the Freedom Ride, who are all high school seniors and college freshmen, also said they hope to see more of North Carolina's racial history taught in the state's public schools.